Thanks to attractive services, hair transplants bring in more than one billion euros to the Turkish economy.

It’s not the bats, it’s Istanbul’s bat tourists. You inevitably come across them in the vicinity of the many hotels and restaurants in the small streets adjacent to Taksim Square. A band of white gauze around the head often replaces their usual scarf. Their skulls are still pitted with blood-red spots, sometimes purplish with a hematoma. The upper part of the face – the eyes included – is more or less swollen. They are distinguished by their dialect in Arabic: Iraqis, Saudis, Moroccans or other. They are between 35 and 55 years old. Most of the time, we see them at tables or walking in the streets with women and children. Because they often come with their families to extend the main purpose of their trip with a tourist stay: the fight against baldness.
Follicles

Hair transplantation operations attract more than 100,000 men every year, the vast majority from Arab countries, to the shores of the Bosporus. Among them 30,000 Saudis who reportedly made the trip in 2016. Khaled, 36, is one of them. He had followed the example and advice of his older brother and two of his colleagues at a bank in Jeddah, where he lives. “This decision, which I made after a lot of hesitation, is one of the best of my life,” said the Saudi. “I am relieved every day looking at myself in the mirror. Before, the top of my bald head made me at least ten years old. I very rarely went out bareheaded, ”says the one who wore the traditional keffiyeh most often, like most men in the Wahhabi kingdom. Visibly satisfied with the results of the intervention on his hairstyle, he also praises the reception and medical conditions of the Istanbul clinic where he was operated.

On their Arabic page, Turkish hair transplant establishments compete to promote their medical skills. But also the offer of support services to their clients in the Middle East, as well as the postoperative insurance and guarantees they offer. They highlight their long experience, the good results confirmed by the before and after photos, the testimonials of those who “trusted them”.
Ripple effect

Three to five day packages sometimes include the hotel. Usually, a welcome at the airport and a driver for the round trips on the day of the operation are also included. Not to mention the control visit twenty-four to forty-eight hours later. The implantation techniques are detailed, illustrated on the websites. Under local anesthesia and with about 20 injections into the skull, it takes between four and seven hours of operation, depending on the extent of the baldness. The follicles are first removed from the hairy areas, often at the back of the head. Then they are implanted on the smooth skull. “The pain is negligible and all it takes is a simple pain reliever for the next two days to not feel it,” they boast in advertising brochures.

The cost ranges from 1,000 to 2,500 euros, depending on the clinic and the size of the operation. “I paid a third of what I was asked to do in Jeddah for the same procedure,” says Khaled. Even counting the travel and the hotel stay, I’m still a winner. ”

The advantageous prices of flights from various Arab cities to Istanbul, added to the fact that most nationals of these countries do not need a visa to enter Turkey, contribute to the unprecedented rise of clinics Turkish. There are almost 400 of them in Istanbul alone.

This minor male surgery, which has become an industry, brings in more than 1 billion euros to the Turkish economy. It also has a ripple effect for other cosmetic procedures. Arab women accompanying their husbands for a hair implantation in Istanbul are increasingly tempted by liposuction of the hips. Or a nose reduction.

The hair transplant business is growing around the world. Turkey has established itself as one of the must-see destinations for this hair surgery. Tourists come from all over the world to perform hair interventions in private clinics. There are several reasons for this.

Turkey, a tourist destination, but not only

Turkey is renowned for being one of the major tourist destinations in Europe. Every year, millions of tourists go there to have a good time. It must be recognized that it is an attractive destination which has many tourist attractions. The magnificent city of Istanbul, its palaces and mosques, Izmir, the seaside resorts of Antalya and Bodrum… are exceptional sites to discover. But in recent years, this country has not only stood out for its tourist attractions. Another kind of tourism is gaining in importance in the country. This concerns in particular hair tourism. Many foreigners come to this country just to do a hair transplant. On the front line, we find Europeans from Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland … Foreigners from Saudi Arabia are also well represented.

Why has Turkey become an essential destination for hair tourism?

If Turkey is in a good position in the field of hair tourism, it is no coincidence. It should be noted that this country has several assets that make it an essential destination for hair tourism. First of all, there is the fact that Turkish clinics specializing in hair transplants offer a quality service. Indeed, this service sometimes has nothing to envy to that practiced in France. Hair interventions are performed by professionals. These surgeons are also experienced and use advanced technology. In addition to the quality of service, it should also be added that the prices charged in this country are cheaper compared to other countries. The price of a hair transplant in Turkey is sometimes 2 to 3 times cheaper than in France.

In addition, once your hair transplant is complete, you will have the opportunity to visit the chic places of this country.

Ultimately, Turkey has different strengths that make it a prime destination for anyone who wants to have a hair transplant. Renowned clinics, cutting-edge technology, competent and experienced surgeons, affordable rates… All the conditions are met.

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Tired of waiting for a long time before being treated or operated in their own country, foreigners, especially Europeans, prefer Turkish medical institutions because of their fast and quality procedure.

Turkey is ranked fourth on the global health tourism list in terms of number of patients served and third in terms of revenue generated.

“Some 756,000 healthy tourists were welcomed in 2017, generating US $ 7.2 billion,” said Emin Çakmak, founding president of the Turkish Healthcare Travel Council.

Citing the advanced oncology equipment used in Turkey, he praised the serious investments in the healthcare industry over the past 15 years, which have completely improved Turkey’s infrastructure and technology.

In order to advance the currently booming health tourism, the Turkish government announced a series of new regulations and investment incentives for the sector last month.

According to Turkish Finance Minister Naci Agbal, the recently enacted Value Added Tax (VAT) rules provide VAT exemption for foreign patients in Turkey who receive services in this sector.

Turkey, which has achieved a higher level of success with the concept it has created in the sector in recent years, saw a 31% increase in health tourism in 2017, at a time when the The country’s economy is struggling with the depreciation of the Turkish lira.

“Health and care for the elderly is a very expensive business, many countries are looking for ways to reduce the high costs: with its sunshine, qualified medical facilities, staff and spa facilities, Turkey is a great opportunity ”, according to Agbal.

For 2018, Turkey’s medical tourism industry aims to attract 800,000 patients and $ 8 billion in revenue, with East Asia being one of the most promising markets.

According to Çakmak, Turkey welcomed 200 Chinese tourists for aesthetic or anti-aging therapies in 2017, and expects 1,000 Chinese tourists this year because the cost is 50% lower than in Switzerland and the United States.

In fact, treatments exist in almost every area of ​​medicine, whether it’s organ transplants, cardiovascular treatments, obesity, or eye surgery.

“I had to wait up to a year in the Netherlands to have cataract surgery, but here it was done in a few days and I’m really happy with the result,” said Joost Van der Bosh, a foreign patient who underwent surgery in the city of Antalya, southern Turkey.

Turkey has also become a pioneer in hair transplantation, with people from over 70 countries seeking hair implant services in the transcontinental country.

“Turkey is one of the leading countries in the world in hair transplantation, and our doctors specializing in health tourism have serious skills,” said Özlem Safiye Kurt, tourism professional medical.

Turkey’s quality and success in hair implantation has attracted great interest from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE in the Middle East, as well as Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France.

According to Kurt, tourists receive hair transplant services in Turkey at half the price than in their own countries.

“We have had thousands of patients from Europe over the past five years and some of them have come back to have fuller hair,” said a representative from the clinic in Istanbul.

“The treatment fee also covers a two-night stay in a hotel for patients who want to sightsee in Istanbul, the historic heart of Turkey,” she added.

In addition to good coordination between several ministries, the Turkish airline Turkish Airlines, with an increasing number of destinations, also contributes significantly to the flourishing sector.

“Turkish Airlines flies to over 300 destinations, which makes it a great asset, as patients can also obtain visas online, which makes it easier to travel,” Çakmak said.

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